It’s been a while since I’ve been out freshwater fishing. It’s not that I don’t like to freshwater fish, it’s just that I’ve been so busy either around the house or playing with my Jeep that I haven’t been able to get out. Sunday changed this. I decide to take my wife and middle child fishing with me. We took advantage of Florida’s free freshwater weekend.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) sets aside several weekends throughout the year to encourage individuals to try fishing. Just so happen that my fishing license had expired and I was able to take advantage of the FWC’s kindness.
My family and I headed down to one of our favorite fishing spots at an abandon golf course just off of US 1 in Palm Coast, Florida. It’s a very beautiful location that provides largemouth bass, bluegill, warmouth, mudfish, and gar fishing. I’ve even seen an otter and several alligators.
Playing with the Little Fish
I immediately noticed the smaller panfish hammering the minnows in the shallows. I’ve always loved fighting the little fish on ultra light tackle. I broke out my light tackle fishing pole setup with a micro reel and 8 lb PowerPro line, which is about 1 lb mono diameter. I tipped the line with 2′ of 6 lb mono. The PowerPro allowed for extra strength if I happen to get caught in the lily pads. The mono tip allowed the line to disappear in the water.
I used a small jig head (1/32 oz) with a purple body and yellow tail. It wasn’t long that for the small largemouth bass and bluegill to take my bait. Within a 20 minute period I caught two largemouth bass and five bluegill. None worth keeping, but the bluegill would have made some excellent big largemouth bass or gar bait.
Here’s a little video I made catching the smaller fish.
The Bedding Bass
Playing with the little fish is fun, but I really wanted to set my sights on getting some bigger fish. I put up my ultra light tackle, grabbed my Abu Garcia pole with the Shimano reel, threw my backpack tackle box over my shoulder and headed around the pond in search of bigger fish.
I choose to use the Gary Yamamoto 4″ white Senko. I highly recommend putting this bait in your freshwater tackle box. This bait is awesome. I have caught a lot of fish on this bait. What’s nice is that you can work it a multitude of ways. My default retrieve is a fast jerking motion, similar to a topwater “walking the dog” movement. Unlike “walking the dog”, I only do this for a few seconds and let the senko flutter back down. In this condition the bait looks like an injured fish and draws an aggressive reaction from nearby predator fish. I’ve had largemouth bass, mudfish, gars and alligators all attack this bait.
The area I stopped at had a nice setup of lily pads. I covered the area with cast, drawing the bait in, dragging over the lily pads. During these first casts I snagged a lily pad at the “V”. This cause my bait to get stuck on the pad. After working it lose the bait came free, but fouled the hook which then snagged a small log. I didn’t pay this any attention as I’ve hooked logs before. This was a mistake.
On one cast I noticed that my line was no longer coming back into me, but taking a course all of it’s own. This meant a big fish had taken it while I let the bait drop. I waited until I was sure the bass had swallowed the bait and set the hook. The fight started, but was short lived. The hook came out. I reset the bait and continued fishing. I changed my pattern to let the bass return, in case the bass was bedding. After a few minutes and tossed the bait back in the general area. Same bite, same fish. The fight was on again and once again the hook came out.
I started to doubt the fish was a bass. Maybe it was a gar and the hook was slipping out of the hard mouth? Either way I wanted to move on. I rounded the pond and looked for other spots. This time I was on a higher bank looking down into the water. From this advantage point I could see bass bedding. I found a bass and tossed my bait several feet pass it. This time I worked the senko bait like a traditional worm. I let the bait fall on top of the bedding bass. This creates an unique situation for the bass. They don’t want to eat the bait, but really want to get it off of their bedding area. I waited until the bass picked up my bait and swam to deposit it off of the bed. I set the hook and held on only to have the hook come out of the fish’s mouth.
I said a few bad words, thought of throwing my fishing pole and entertained the idea of selling my gear. I knew for certain that this was a bass and the fish had the bait with the hook in its mouth. This is when I realized my mistake. The hook had bent on the log I had hooked earlier. It was just enough to allow the fish to slip off. After taking a quick breath, I changed out the hook and went looking for some more bass.
At the next spot I came across a nice looking fish. Sitting all pretty on the bed. I wasn’t going to fail this time. Using the same strategy, minus the losing the fish part, I cast the bait out past the bedding bass. I stopped the retrieve and let the bait land on the bed. Sure enough the bass got tired of looking at the bait and picked it up to take it away. I set the hook and the fight was on, however this time the hook held fast. Few minutes later I had the first bass on the bank.
I was now on a roll. I used the same method on the next spot I came to. A smaller bass that followed the same pattern as the first. What was interesting about this fish was that after I caught it I threw the fish back in a different spot. By the time I got back the bass had already returned to the bed. For giggles I tried catching the fish again with the same success.
It was getting close to quitting time as I saw my wife and child had already put their fishing poles in the Jeep. Decided to work my way back. Was able to land one additional smaller bass using the same technique as I did on the other two. Overall it was a very fun day. I enjoyed being outdoors and spending time with my family.